Art Education and Whiteness as Style

  • Tyson E. Lewis


Art education needs to draw upon critical whiteness studies to further its social justice agenda while at the same time recognizing the resources that art education brings to questions of whiteness. In particular, whiteness should be conceptualized as a pre-conscious style. This style is composed of lines (that maximally extend white bodies in space) and angles of vision (that create hierarchically rigidified systems of difference). Certain forms of aesthetic experience can interrupt and suspend this geometry of lines and angles. The chapter concludes with a description of how the work of Kara Walker forces the white, male body of the author to stumble over itself and to perceptually hesitate, thus opening up the possibility for another way of living whiteness that troubles discrimination and privilege.


Critical whiteness studies Whiteness Phenomenology Merleau-Ponty Embodiedness Kara Walker Art education Sarah Ahmed 


  1. Ahmed, S. (2006). Queer phenomenology: Orientations, objects, others. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Al-Saji, A. (2014). A phenomenology of hesitation: Interrupting racializing habits of seeing. In E. S. Lee (Ed.), Living alterities: Phenomenology, embodiment, and race (pp. 133–172). New York: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  3. Anderson, T., Gussak, D., Hallmark, K. K., & Paul, A. S. (2010). Art education for social justice. Reston, VA: National Art Education Association.Google Scholar
  4. Baldacchino, J. (2015). Art’s foreignness as an exit pedagogy. In T. E. Lewis & M. J. Laverty (Eds.), Art’s teachings, teaching’s art: Philosophical, critical, and educational musings (pp. 19–32). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  5. Bell, D. (1992). Racial realism. Connecticut Law Review, 24(2), 363–379.Google Scholar
  6. Calderón, D. (2009). Herbert Marcuse, critical race theory, and multicultural education: Transformative educational practices. In D. Kellner, T. E. Lewis, C. Pierce, & K. D. Cho (Eds.), Marcuse’s challenge to education (pp. 159–180). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.Google Scholar
  7. Darts, D. (2006). Art education for change: Contemporary issues and the visual arts. Art Education, 59(5), 6–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Delgado, R., & Stefancic, J. (2001). Critical race theory: An introduction. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  9. DeLissovoy, N. (2010). Staging the crisis: Teaching, capital, and the politics of the subject. Curriculum Inquiry, 40(3), 418–435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Duncum, P. (2002). Clarifying visual culture art education. Art Education, 55(3), 6–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fanon, F. (1967). Black skin, white masks. New York: Grove Press.Google Scholar
  12. Fielding, H. A. (2006). White logic and the constancy of color. In D. Olkowski & G. Weiss (Eds.), Feminist interpretations of Maurice Merleau-Ponty (pp. 71–90). University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Granger, D. A. (2010). Somaesthetics and racism. Journal of Aesthetic Education, 44(2), 69–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Harris, C. I. (1993). Whiteness as property. Harvard Law Review, 106(8), 1707–1791.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Irigaray, L. (1993). An ethics of sexual difference. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  16. King, J. E. (1991). Dysconscious racism: Ideology, identity, and the miseducation of teachers. The Journal of Negro Education, 60(2), 133–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lee, E. S. (Ed.). (2014). Living alterities: Phenomenology, embodiment, and race. New York: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  18. Leonardo, Z., & Zembylas, M. (2013). Whiteness as technology of affect: Implications for educational praxis. Equity and Excellence in Education, 46(1), 150–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lewis, T. E. (2017). But I’m not a racist! Phenomenology, racism, and the body schema in White, preservice teacher education. Race, Ethnicity, and Education, 21(1), 118–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Meacham, D. E. (2013). What goes without saying: Husserl’s concept of style. Research in Phenomenology, 43(1), 3–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Merleau-Ponty, M. (1993). Indirect language and the voices of silence. In G. A. Johnston (Ed.), The Merleau-Ponty aesthetics reader: Philosophy and painting (pp. 76–120). Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Merleau-Ponty, M. (2012). Phenomenology of perception. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  23. Pinder, K. (2008). Missus Kara E. Walker: Emancipated, and on tour. The Art Bulletin, 90(4), 640–649.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Sleeter, C., Torres, M. N., & Laughlin, P. (2004). Scaffolding conscientization through inquiry in teacher education. Teacher Education Quarterly, 31(1), 81–96.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tyson E. Lewis
    • 1
  1. 1.University of North TexasDentonUSA

Personalised recommendations